COMMENT: Amid widespread media speculation that the Pope resigned because of the scandals surrounding the molestation scandals, another papal appointment warrants scrutiny. Ratzinger/Benedict has transferred Monsignor Ettore Balestrero to Colombia.
Balestrero oversaw the Vatican’s dealings with Moneyval, the European investigative/regulatory body charged with investigating money laundering. With the Vatican once again the focal point of money laundering charges , one wonders about Balestrero’s transfer.
Among the past imbroglios in which the Vatican Bank has been implicated is an alleged relationship between Vatican bank adviser Roberto Calvi and Pablo Escobar , of the Colombia-based Medellin cartel.
Was the IOR laundering money for the Colombia cartels? Does that have anything to do with the Balestreto appointment?
Ratzinger/Benedict also made another controversial and significant move just before resigning–appointing a German member of the Knights of Malta and chairman of the board of Blohm & Voss  to head the Vatican Bank.
EXCERPT: Pope Benedict XVI is clearing the decks of his pontificate, tweaking the rules of the conclave, finessing the religious rites used to launch the next papacy and making some eyebrow-raising final appointments before he retires next week. . . .
Pope Benedict XVI is clearing the decks of his pontificate, tweaking the rules of the conclave, finessing the religious rites used to launch the next papacy and making some eyebrow-raising final appointments before he retires next week.
. . . And on Friday, the Vatican announced Benedict had transferred a top official in the secretariat of state, Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, to Colombia — an appointment that came amid swirling media speculation about the contents of a confidential report into the Vatican’s leaks scandal.
Italian newspapers have been rife for days with unsourced reports about the contents of the secret dossier that three cardinals prepared for Benedict after investigating the origins of the leaks. The scandal erupted last year after papers taken from the pope’s desk were published in a blockbuster book. The pope’s butler was convicted in October of aggravated theft, and later pardoned.
The Vatican has refused to comment on the reports, which have claimed the contents of the dossier, delivered to Benedict in December, were a factor in his decision to resign. Benedict himself has said he simply no longer has the “strength of mind and body” to carry on.
. . . Balestrero was head of the Holy See’s delegation to the Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee, which evaluated the Vatican’s anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing measures. He has had a hand in the efforts by the Vatican bank to be more transparent and is close to Benedict’s No. 2, the Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The Vatican submitted itself to Moneyval’s evaluation in a bid to improve its reputation in the financial world.
The Vatican passed the test on the first try in August, and Moneyval said it had made great progress in a short amount of time. But the Holy See received poor or failing grades for its financial watchdog agency and its bank, long the source of some of the Vatican’s more storied scandals.